02 February 2006 | Rebecca Ellinor
A team has been recruited by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) to advise England's 460 colleges on purchasing.
It was established after a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) highlighted differences between procurement practices in further education institutions.
Members of the four-strong staff were previously part of the internal procurement team at the LSC, which is responsible for planning and funding education and training. They have been seconded from the LSC for an initial 18 months and are based in offices across the country.
Sam Rooker and Carla Honeybun are further education procurement development managers and Hannah Pratt and Hayley Addison are further education procurement officers.
They are supporting the work of the DfES Centre for Procurement Performance (CPP), headed by Ian Taylor, which includes helping to deliver the three-year efficiency target of £75 million. Their aim is to raise purchasing's profile within colleges.
Honeybun told SM
: "We can't dictate what colleges do with their money but we can provide advice, put them in touch with each other and share information on what is already being done."
The team is arranging visits to all colleges and is planning to publish a newsletter to share best practice. It is also holding seminars on the government procurement card. "A lot of colleges don't have purchasing professionals and it makes it easier for finance directors to control spend," she said.
The team is also advising colleges to join a consortium to make savings and share knowledge.
The CPP will fund training for some buyers through an existing contract with Crescent Purchasing Consortium. It is also working with consortia on striking new deals and could continue beyond 18 months if it is found to be in demand.